House Republicans attack Biden after Black voter registration increases in Michigan - TAI News
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A vote sign and American flag are shown outside a Michigan primary election location in Dearborn, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

During a hearing of the House Small Business Committee on June 4, congressional Republicans criticized the Biden administration for encouraging voter registration, citing data showing increased registration among Black voters in Michigan in areas it claims were especially frequently visited by officials of the Small Business Administration.

Michigan has been a tightly contested swing state in the two most recent presidential elections. Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton there in 2016 by a margin of 0.23 of a percentage point, while Joe Biden defeated Trump in 2020 by 2.78 percentage points. Allies of Trump in Michigan have been indicted on charges connected with their roles in attempting to overturn his loss there.

The hearing was titled “Weaponizing Federal Resources: Exposing the SBA’s Voter Registration Efforts.” The event was the latest effort by the House Republican majority  to prove its claim that the Biden administration is using the SBA  to assist the Democratic Party’s electoral efforts.

As evidence of their claim, Republican House members produced a document that juxtaposed visits to Michigan by SBA officials with voter registration data.

“Administrator [Isabel] Guzman has gone to the state of Michigan eight times. That’s twice as many as any other state. The areas where she’s gone, voter registration has gone up,” Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA) said as he submitted the document into the official congressional record. (42:25)

The document highlights trips by Guzman to counties with the “highest African-American population” and areas with the “highest number of voters registered between 2023-2024.” The counties meeting these criteria are Wayne, Washtenaw, Monroe, Jackson, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Berrien, Kent, Muskegon, Genesee, Livingston, Oakland and Macomb.

Guzman traveled to Michigan in February as part of the Biden administration’s “Investing in America” slate of events. According to a release from the agency, Guzman’s trip was meant to highlight increased investments in Black-owned small businesses since Biden took office.

“It is so unfortunate that we are having this hearing today. There are so many other deeply important things that we should be spending the taxpayers’ dollars on today discussing,” Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-MI), a member of the committee, said during the hearing. (55:88)

Republicans began down this avenue of criticism after the SBA announced in March that it had entered into an agreement with the Michigan Department of State to promote voter registration. The agency has since released a memorandum of understanding with the state that lays out plans to create a unique website to encourage registration and to track statistics related to voter outreach efforts.

Neither the documents nor announcements of Guzman’s trips to Michigan make mention of any political party or of Biden’s reelection campaign.

The SBA announcement said the agreement with Michigan was in line with an executive order that Biden signed in March 2021 calling on executive agencies to promote access to voting.

“Free and fair elections that reflect the will of the American people must be protected and defended. But many Americans, especially people of color, confront significant obstacles to exercising that fundamental right,” the order said. “In passing the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, the Congress found that it is the duty of Federal, State, and local governments to promote the exercise of the fundamental right to vote.  Executive departments and agencies (agencies) should partner with State, local, Tribal, and territorial election officials to protect and promote the exercise of the right to vote, eliminate discrimination and other barriers to voting, and expand access to voter registration and accurate election information. It is our duty to ensure that registering to vote and the act of voting be made simple and easy for all those eligible to do so.”

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The Michigan Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.